We woke up slowly as usual, at least it was sunny and warm. As we were packing up a French hiker called Merino passed us by. Just as we were setting off we could hear voices coming towards us – Hummer, MC Camel, Heidi and the Canadian couple were coming. Kristians called them the freight train. Soon enough they passed us but we’d be leapfrogging for the whole day.
The morning stretch wasn’t that bad, it was hot & sunny but there was also a nice breeze. We planned to hike 22 miles to a campsite by a water source. Our heels were hurting a bit less than on the days before – likely because of the smaller weight of our packs (due to all the food we’d destroyed).
The trail was up&down but stayed in green forests, we followed a river deep in the valley to our right hand side for some time. About an hour after starting we again passed the big group of hikers as they were filling up on water. The trail then mostly descended for a while.
We had sought out a water stream where we could have lunch – right at the midpoint of the day. Before we got there we met a hiker we hadn’t seen before – Sole to Soul. Apparently he had started the PCT in 2006 but had to leave trail for family reasons and so had gotten back on trail just now, in Sierra City, to continue until end.
After we reached the suitable stream we sat down and ate while both the big group & Sole to Soul all caught up with us. But none of them wanted to have lunch with us so we just chatted for a bit.
The afternoon was more uphill than down but our heels were now really getting tired. At least the evening was warm and pretty but because we were in forest the whole time there weren’t many views of the valleys and hills around. Once we reached a hilltop we had another break whereas the big group again passef us – they had apparently been off trail at a watersource while we had gone by.
After a long day we finally reached our campsite, filled up on water and also made a lovely campfire. The sky was clear, it was warm and calm, so it was a perfect evening for sitting by a campfire. Sole to Soul also caught up with us but then hiked onwards and then a southbound hiker passed us – a German guy. Anyway – after a long day we finally got a good warm meal, a cup of tea and then went to sleep.
So the night didn’t pass as nicely as usual – at about midnight I started hearing some noises around our tent. There was cracking of branches but also louder noises but of course I couldn’t see through the tent – nevertheless Kristians and I agree that it was a bear. And as if that wasn’t enough at about 2 in the morning rain and thunder started. Luckily the thunder stayed further away in the valley but the tent definitely got wet by the morning.
The morning itself was clear, however, and it quickly got very warm. As we were packing up after the breakfast I was caught by surprise: suddenly Calculus was hiking towards us! We were so happy to see him again – I saw him last at South Lake Tahoe but Kristians hadn’t seen him since Mt Whitney. He had just spent a week off trail and that’s why he was behind us, but would now continue hiking 27 miles a day in order to finish by his planned time. So we chatted for maybe half an hour before he kept going – we didn’t know if we’d catch up or not.
About 10 minutes later we got going, too, and because our packs were now pretty light we hiked fast and quickly caught up with Calculus. We decided to hike together and the trail definitely went faster, all the way until lunch. We discussed everything from politics to intelligence agencies and really just chatted away – usually Kristians and I hike a bit separately and don’t talk too much so it was a nice change. We walked on nice forest paths, often also partially bushwacking, but the trail was mostly either flat or downhill so by noon we had hiked 20,5 kilometers. We decided to have lunch by the Feather River but just as our luck goes it also started raining. Kristians and I decided to use our wet tent cover to build sort of a roof for the lunchbreak but it didn’t turn out too well. However, luckily it didn’t start to rain too heavily.
After the lunchbreak it was time for the tough bit of the day – 1060m of ascent over 15,6 kilometers. Soon after we started this dreaded bit it of course started to rain, this time hard. Calculus started a bit after us but then went on past us. Kristians and I decided not to put rain jackets on because we’d get sweaty anyway, going uphill, so we ended up passing Calculus soon again as he was putting his jacket on. Buuuut then he passef us again soon enough – he is crazy fast on the uphills.
The rain lasted for maybe an hour but the climb itself lasted for four. After the rain we even saw some sun but it was also interesting ascending the hillside – we could see the water from the valley evaporating in the sunlight and some darker thunderclouds far away. A bit before the end of the climb we passed Calculus again as he was getting a water refill and we also met Sole to Soul again. At the last stream before the top we had to fill up our maximum water capacity because we were going to drycamp.
The big climb was rewarded by some great views at a rock outcrop on top of the mountain. The dark & rainy skies offered a stark contrast to the sum from the other side, the green forests and the pale rocks. Our chosen tentsite was now only a couple of hundred meters away and as we were tired we didn’t spend too much time at the peak.
Once we got to our tentsite and started to put the tent up Calculus caught up with us for the final time and so we had to say good bye. He had his deadline to get to and big miles to do so he had to continue until about 8 in the evening. It was sad to say bye, especially because we can’t be sure that we’ll meet up again on the trail. But then again – everyone has to hike their own hike. And after all – this rainy and gray and difficult day had been overall a really nice day of hiking together.
Soon enough Sole to Soul also arrived and set up camp close to us. We were all tired and went to sleep soon – the forest was anyway too wet to sit around or make a campfire. At some point the skies also cleared up during the night (the sky was so starry when I had to get out and pee) but towards the morning brought some rain again.
We got up at around 6:30 as usual and it was nice to see sunlight shining on our wet tent cover. The sky was clear, but we were in the forest so it would take a while to dry our wet things so we just decided to pack it all up and hit the trail. It was gorgeous morning hike as we were high up the clouds in the valley below us and humidity all around made it feel like we are in the rainforest, we loved it. Additionally we met a fearless deer right on the path, it did not look bothered at all by our presence which was unusual as usually they would just run away as soon as they see you.
The trail went gradually down but had it’s ups aswell until we reached the Bucks Lake road where we met Coconut and Tomb Raider, trailfriends from way back in Bishop. We did a short catch up and agreed to see each other later on that day. We had 460m ascent to do and we wanted to get to the top before lunchtime. The ascent was very gradual so we could walk fast, but it also meant that we will have to walk longer distance. At some point and Tomb Raider passed us and when we were refilling our water before 11 km dry stretch Coconut also caught up. We proceeded for another few kilometer or so and met our good old friend Tom from Germany who has now finally gotten a proper trail name: T-bone. He was having lunch somewhere midway on the climb and as we were chatting Tomb Raider and Coconut joined him and they all convinced us to have lunch there with them.
It’s actually one of the most fun thing to do on the trail just share the trail tales with people you haven’t seen for a month. After lots of gossiping and exchanging the latest rumors we were ready to proceed with our hike. Tomb Raider and Coconut left first and us two were hiking now together with T-bone. The hike continued up until it sort of evened out and the roller coaster started, which was just smaller up and down hills one after another. That’s where we met James Kayleigh and Aziz the guys that we basically started with but they had flipped the Sierras and were now heading South. Nevertheless it was really nice to see them so we stopped for about half an hour chat during which we exchanged our trail tales and future plans, and wished to see each other somewhere in Oregon or Washington. We continued the uphill and soon we caught up with Coconut, T-Bone and Tomb Raider who were refilling water and having a small break, so we joined them.
After the break we continued up and down for a bit until we reached the ridge which continued pretty flat, slightly winding between the smaller peaks. A big dark cloud was howevering right above us and Stiina was worried that it will start to rain or even worse a thunderstorm will begin. I on the other side was not that worried as I saw that the clouds all around it did not look that threatening, eventually we got a couple of rain drops on us but that was about it. Us and T-Bone reached the desired campsite first, it was only 4 miles (6km) from Belden and because according to Guthook everything was supposedly closed by 17:00 we didn’t even plan to try to get there that evening, until. The campsite was supposed to be for 2 tents but the problem was that those were one-person tent size spots and the mountain side had a slope oh well, it is what it is, we tought. Then the Tomb Raider and Coconut arrived and convinced T-Bone to go all the way down to Belden with them, we had our tent already pitched so we just stayed where we were. At the same moment also Sole the soul arrived and he was happy that he had a spot to stay as he was not willing to go further. So we spent the evening cooking dinner, eating and chatting.